Calgary, AB Canada – Rocky Mountain DanceSport Grand Prix

First question students asked me, “What the heck is there to do in Calgary?” (My clients are used to me creating a trip out of a competition weekend.) I replied, “I ran into one of the organizers judging us at another competition and she personally invited our team to her event which I thought was a lovely compliment to our team and very personable of her so I’d like to honor that invitation and support her team. I also know a couple more people involved in the event and know that they are some of the most fun people I’ve ever met…so what could we lose, let’s give it a shot!” Oh my goodness what an experience we had no idea we were in for!

I did my usual tour guiding around the city finding fun eats and visual treats – which was easy with Calgary’s vast array of unique options in walkable distance. I surprised them with scrumptious dinner in the Calgary Tower some 600 feet above ground with a fabulous rotating view as the day turned to night (made the reservation months ahead just in case). We also got our grub on in a bank converted to pub, “Bank & Baron,” with fun old details and some preserved spaces chocked full of old history to roam around in – felt like we were in an old western flick. Still can’t stop thinking about the hole in the wall we discovered on our stroll called “Dirt Belly” that made me see how quite possible it was to join the Vegetarian side. On my quest to find my favorite cookie, macaroons, we discovered a beautiful relaxing indoor park on the top floor of the mall – who would have imagined that?! Anything we forgot back home to help us prep for competition could be found walking distance from our hotel at the mall (MAC, Sephora and much more), drug store/convenience store, and Aveda training school (my favorite competition hair spray and a great styled hair cut that cost something like $15CAN!). As a matter of fact, we never needed a car except for the end of the night Thursday night when we decided we didn’t feel like walking back through the chilly air, from all the live music venues we had to choose from, so we hopped into an Uber.

The majority of us chose to stay in the hotel where the competition was held as it is always the most convenient and less stressful option (plus no car fees!). Visit my blog, “To stay or not to stay, that is the question.” We were very pleased we did as the rooms were fabulous and fabulously priced for a downtown Hyatt, the beds quite comfortable, and there was even a copper water spout in the room for free filtered drinking water! The staff was professional, warm, and able to think on their feet which I appreciated since I attempted to make it challenging for them as I was taking care of multiple rooms under different names – some of the rooms I booked directly with the hotel through the competition’s special pricing and link on their website and some through the competition organizers directly as they were awesome about making sure enough rooms were reserved for everyone coming with me. The hotel coffee shop/convenience store was super helpful in the mornings and for house made power snacks to aid us during the competition. Being from the coffee state, we were super impressed and appreciative of their attention to detail while making our various styles of lattes – that can make or break a Washingtonian’s day, ya know?!

Competition started Friday morning. A trail of unique, as well as the reliable, vendors paved our way to the ballroom – you could get a 3-D scan of yourself and have it made into an action figure, customize-able dance shoes that generally don’t take any break-in time (so stoked!) by “I Love Dance Shoes” (mention “Studio 6/Natasha Thayer when ordering), beautifully hand crafted lightweight jewelry by “Tzafora” (her technique is amazing!), and more! We all took a turn snapping wildly fun – more like funny and laughing our asses off as everyone was encouraged to do by the organizers – photos of each other in front of the event’s photo backdrop. Although the ballroom was nice and large to impress us experienced competitors (which can be intimidating to any newbies), the air was positive and overwhelmingly welcoming helping to reduce the nervousness of any of the new members of our team. Members of the organizing team took turns warmly introducing themselves to each and every one who came with us. They moved about the event as if they had no stresses and it was time to party (even though we know that couldn’t possibly be true running any event!) which really set the tone that there was no need for any tension or stress while at their event – just joy, fun, and the love of dancing. They just wanted to know that all of our needs had been met and that we were having fun. Speaking of, who could possibly hold out on the fun with that funny and personable of an mc at the helm? Spectators and competitors alike were entertained!

Saturday and Sunday day sessions included workshops as well as competitions of all styles. Saturday’s workshops focused on latest popular Bachata & Salsa moves while Sunday workshops focused on a variety of dance styles and technique. We were not expecting, but super excited to find, an entire “Latino Dance” section of Sunday’s competition schedule! That is something near and dear to my heart and something we do a lot of at my venue so you’ll definitely see us in there when we return again for the 2018 event! I even got to lead my students in some categories since the rules are slightly different in Canada! As a female coach who always has to hand over her work for someone else to take the credit, I will support as many of the events I get to lead at as I can! Friday and Saturday evenings boasted standing room only spectator crowds (worth it to get your VIP passes!) there to watch competitions and a wide array of performances by dancers from multiple countries and styles including Bachata from Mexico and Italy followed up with at least 2 rooms a night full of people social dancing after the event (about 11p) until 2 or 3 am! Each room had a different dance style theme to it – Latin club room, Tango Milonga room, Ballroom club after-party room… We had so much fun dancing with each other, new friends, some judges and organizers with their amazing party energy!

Bonus: We were able to accommodate multiple schedules – some of us flew in Thursday while others were able to fly in after work Friday and still feel like they had a worthwhile trip. We were able to fly back home Sunday evening after the workshops and events. Flight was cheap!

Next time: We’re excited to take the organizer’s advice and schedule some extra days to visit Banff!